When 18-year-old American Ezra Schwartz was gunned down at the junction her guests would have to travel to get to her daughter’s bat mitzvah in one week’s time,Israeli mom Jessica Levine Kupferberg realized this rite of passage was going to be much harder – and more significant – to pull off than she originally imagined.
It felt surreal to worry about the weather and to attempt to help my daughter write her speech while I simultaneously made inquiries about bulletproof vans after friends who came in from America were understandably concerned about their safety.
And then, just two days before the bat mitzvah, just when I thought I could keep it all together, just when I needed the seating chart and the phone number for the hairstylist so I could schedule the curls and braids and up-dos — our party planner is in a terrorist attack, her windshield shattered by a potentially lethal boulder, and she ends up in the hospital in shock.
And I was done. I went to my room to cry. I snapped at anyone in my path, especially my sweet, excited kids who wanted my attention for the party preparations and I was imploding trying to shield them from all this. And I couldn’t muster up the strength to help my daughter finish the speech she so desperately wanted to finish and practice until it was perfect.
I knew this bat mitzvah bash represented so much to my daughter, our middle child, the bookish one with the deep soul who worried when we made aliyah a year and a half ago that her bat mitzvah party might be friendless and not as special as her older sister’s American one. After all the changes, after moving them to this beautiful, battered country in the middle of a war, I needed to get this right for her, for all of us.
And I wondered again how I could bulletproof this simcha, this rite of passage, how I could inoculate my guests, my family and my kids from the terror and sadness.
Read what happened, and the moving words this mom said to her young daughter on this special, spiritual night.